12506 BB: Networks for Learning and Networks that Learn: Findings from Hive Research Lab

06/12/2015 @ 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
The Orpheum A

Organizer: Rafi Santo
Presenters: Dixie Ching, Chris Hoadley, Kim Gomez, Leah Gilliam

Hive Learning Networks have been a flagship initiative of the Digital Media and Learning community, taking visions of Connected Learning and applying them to city-scale models that link museums, libraries and community based educational organizations in urban centers. Hive Research Lab, an applied research partner of Hive NYC Learning Network, investigates how Hives operate both as “Networks for Learning”, providing a range of opportunities for youth to pursue interests that lead to positive outcomes, and as “Networks that Learn”, where participating organizations circulate knowledge, learn best practices, and collaborate to design new learning experiences. In this session, we share findings from a two year research-practice partnership (Coburn, Penuel & Geil, 2013) with Hive NYC and offer lessons these networks hold for those interested in advancing Connected Learning more broadly as well as reflections on opportunities and challenges presented by such long-term research-practice collaborations.

As ‘Networks for Learning’, we focus our research on issues of youth pathways with Hives and the dynamics involved in pursuing interest-driven learning across temporal, geographic and social landscapes. We center analysis on how teens go about developing a ‘social learning ecology’ around an interest – the material, knowledge-building, emotional, institutional and brokering relationships that allow them to pursue that interest. In considering where the opportunities associated with Hive Learning Networks fit into this picture, we focus our gaze particularly on the practices of brokering new learning opportunities for young people at the conclusion of programs in ways that allow them to continue to explore these interests. Finally, we’ll share approaches we’ve taken to strengthen Hives as ‘networks for learning’ through design-based research interventions created in collaboration with network members.

As ‘Networks that Learn’, our research on Hives looks at issues of organizational innovation; what practices Hive organizations utilize as they develop new areas of work, how inter-organizational relationships between Hive members support innovation, and the ways that the Hive network acts as an ‘infrastructure’ for innovation. We’ll share patterns of both informal support that organizations provide one another as they innovate, such as giving advice and feedback , as well as patterns of formal collaboration between organizations both to develop new initiatives and scale existing ones. Finally, we will share emergent research on how innovation practices around ‘working open’ that have roots in open source software are circulating into the ways that Hives operate as ‘networks that learn’, and the kinds of tensions that emerge as these practices enter a context focused on equity and learning.

Finally, we share findings on the role of long term research-practice partnerships in a connected learning context. As the DML community moves to more deeply integrate research insights with on-the-ground, everyday work of connected learning practitioners, we will offer perspectives on how to do so in meaningful and productive ways.


Coburn, C. E., Penuel, W. R., & Geil, K. E. (2013). Research-practice partnerships: A strategy for leveraging research for educational improvement in school districts. New York: William T. Grant Foundation.


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